Rule of Thumb: Double the Frequency, Triple the Ridership.
I’m still plugging away on updates for the new edition of my book. Specifically, I’ve been working on a new chapter listing my personal Top Ten railway stations in the U.S. and Canada.
One of the stations I considered – but finally rejected – was Cincinnati Union Terminal. It’s a beautiful Art Deco building dating back to the early 1930s and it’s worth going out of your way to see, even if you are not traveling by train.
But I didn’t include it because the Cardinal is the only Amtrak train stopping there, and it only runs three days a week. Furthermore, the westbound Cardinal arrives at 1:13 a.m.; the eastbound doesn’t show up until 3:27 a.m.
That started me wondering about the Cardinal’s ridership. I mean, how many people are even aware that a passenger train runs through their city if it comes and goes in the wee hours?
So I checked and I did the math.
In 2013, a total of 15,213 passengers arrived or departed the Cincinnati station on the Cardinal. The train runs three days a week in each direction, so that’s six trains a week, times 52 weeks, or a total of 312 arrival/departures. Total number of passengers divided by total number of trains equals 48.76.
In other words, over an entire year, an average of about 49 people got on or got off every time the Cardinal pulled into Cincinnati. All things considered, that’s damn impressive!
And wouldn’t it be fun to see what would happen if the Cardinal ran every day?
Or if it arrived in Cincinnati in the middle of the day instead of the middle of the night?